The days go by, the search goes on.

Julie James

Many of you've been asking me in person, online, and even on the phone, 'Have you found Cooper?' Unfortunately, the answer is no. Here's what's happened since my last update.

I can't believe it's been 12 days since I last wrote about Cooper. Each morning, I still make a smoothie at home, adding peanut butter last as I always do. The remains of peanut butter on that spoon were my silencer for Cooper when I would hit the blender's start button. It only worked if I was giving him Smucker's Natural, though. Cooper could see, smell, and taste right through generic peanut butter. Nope, it had to be the good stuff.

For those of you who might not have seen these updates in the past, Cooper slipped away from my parents on the morning of July 5, as we were returning from St. Louis. The search has been on ever since.

We're pretty sure Cooper was spotted a week ago tonight, under a street light in Sigourney, less than a mile from where he disappeared. One person, however, told us that an Australian Shepherd had been in that neighborhood lately. If correct, the coloring of an Australian Shepherd CAN be comparable to that of Cooper. I was SO excited about the spotting until a woman told me about the Australian Shepherd. However, we don't know for sure she's right. Even if she was correct, I still have to believe that was Cooper that was seen Friday, July 15 at around 10:30 p.m. Three people were in the vehicle that saw him, and they all agree it looked like him. I'm going with that. The problem? That's the only time he's been seen. One time in 17 days. I can't tell you how hard that is.

Since my last writing, two-gallon baggies have been put over Cooper lost signs that are posted, to protect them from the incessant rains of July. We had two live traps out for a time until we all agreed that one wasn't large enough for Cooper to ever enter. The man who originally said the charge would be $20 a day, wouldn't take a penny when he found out we didn't get our beloved dog back. The other one was given to us to use as long as necessary, again at no charge. That live trap is covered with a sheet now to offer a degree of protection and comfort, should Cooper return to it. My parents continue to check it religiously and update it's food contents and continue to update us with an email each and every time. I long for the phone call that I know would mean he'd been caught. We've also got a camera set up and the photos are checked daily to see if there's any sign of Cooper.

People from all across Iowa continue to offer us ideas and tips. We received a call one night that lasted a full hour from a woman with a dog rescue group who offered suggestion after suggestion of things that have worked and we should try if we weren't already. We take comfort in at least knowing that we've done almost every single thing that's been told to us.

Emotionally, I've been doing much better but I must tell you that typing this is bringing it all back very freshly. It still hurts so much.

Your support over the last two-plus weeks means so much to both Julie and me. We will continue to hope he returns soon and I'll keep making that morning smoothie, washing off the leftover peanut butter. I just can't bring myself to lick it off. That's Cooper's, and I so badly want to give it to him again.